World green building trends 2016: Focus on China
In February, USGBC announced the results of research by Dodge Data and Analytics, with which USGBC has partnered, in the World Green Building Trends 2016 SmartMarket Report. In a brief series, USGBC has highlighted specific aspects of the report.
Although China is still emerging as a green building market, the respondents to the World Green Building Trends survey expect rapid growth in the industry. Only 5 percent report that the current majority of their projects are green; however, 28 percent also report that they expect to be doing over 60 percent of their projects as green building within three years. The market in China is also differentiated by the extent to which protecting natural resources, improving indoor air quality and enhancing health and well-being through green building are seen as priorities.
Sectors with expected growth
China, like India, anticipates growth in the sectors of new commercial and high-rise residential. Communities was also reported as a sector with high expected growth:
- New commercial buildings (office, retail, hotel): 55 percent of respondents from China expect to build in this sector in the next three years, compared with 46 percent worldwide.
- New high-rise residential buildings (four or more floors): 45 percent of respondents from China expect to build in this area over the next three years, compared with only 25 percent globally.
- Communities (mixed-use development combining residential and commercial buildings): The highest percentage of any responding nation, 36 percent, expects to work on green building in communities. The only other countries that come close to this are Singapore and Brazil.
In contrast, many fewer respondents anticipated doing existing building retrofits (19 percent) than the global average of 37 percent.
Top drivers for green building
Market demands are a main driver of green building for 43 percent of respondents, compared to 30 percent globally. In addition, environmental regulations and client demands came in with 36 percent and 34 percent of respondents, respectively, listing them as key drivers. Healthier neighborhoods were also a priority, with 30 percent calling them a top trigger, compared to only 15 percent worldwide.
Forty-nine percent chose encouraging sustainable business practices as the top social reason for green building in China, below the global average of 58 percent. But 33 percent of respondents in China considered the ability to create a sense of community a top social reason for building green, compared to 29 percent worldwide. The same percentage selected support of the domestic economy as a reason to build green.
Notably, respondents from China were more likely than those of other nations to choose several environmental reasons for building green as being important, beyond just reducing energy consumption (49 percent)—protecting natural resources (49 percent) and improving air quality (42 percent) were also seen as vital.
One hundred percent of respondents from China reported using metrics to track green building performance. However, the results are conservative compared to global medians. In particular, the reduction in operating costs over one year for both new buildings and retrofits is listed as 4 percent, although the global median is 9 percent. On the other hand, low initial construction costs also result in shorter payback periods for projects in China than what is typical worldwide, which may help encourage green investment.